For the first in our series of features casting an eye on the year’s biggest events, we turn our focus to the start of the year as one legendary club closed, another reopened, tragedy forced BPM to relocate and New York found its dancing feet once again.
The demise of Sankeys at the beginning of January wasn’t the first time Manchester found itself licking the deep wounds of a club closure. Mancunians still wince at the loss of the Hacienda in 1997. One of the most important clubs in the development of dance music culture worldwide, its closure traumatised the city’s clubbing scene for decades when its doors shut after a long ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’ saga to eventually make way for flats.
Sankeys Manchester found itself in the exact same scenario in January when the owners of the building that the club resided in, decided to sell the property to developers. The venue was a disused soap factory in the city’s industrial north side Ancoats area of the city. Like many clubs in similar predicaments, it drew thousands of people to an otherwise dilapidated area, sowing the seeds that would later lead to the gentrification that would ironically instigate its unfortunate demise. “It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t posh and the sweat would drip from the walls – but it was a true representation of the underground,” legendary DJ and producer François K, told Fact Magazine at the time.
Sankeys gave the city’s clubbing scene hope after the closure of the Hacienda and attracted a long list of groundbreaking parties and performances from promoters and DJs like Bugged Out! or the Chemical Brothers and Danny Tenaglia. Its appeal attracted genuine rave loving celebrity clubbers like Bjork and the Spice Girls to party alongside the legions of house and techno devotees who look back on Sankeys as of the UK’s most hallowed clubs.
While the issue of club closures was never more apparent in 2017, there were at least some tales of incredible positivity.
“We are fabric, this is not how it ends.” read the opening line of the club’s statement to the pubic after its licence was revoked in September 2016. On January 6 and 7, however Fabric reopened its doors triumphantly after a lengthy, draining battle with authorities. It was the conclusion of a classic tale of ‘people power.’
£333,568 was donated by clubbers worldwide aided by big donations from DJs and members of the industry. The money was used to fight the appeal and eventually, bring about an out of court settlement that allowed allow the club to continue and the remainder was later passed onto other clubs that found themselves in similar positions.
A banner rading ‘You Saved Fabric’ greeted clubbers on the dancefloor as Terry Francis, Craig Richards and Seth Troxler treated the club to a night of music on the Saturday night, that few people had thought they would ever experience again in Room 1. The electricity in the air was palpable from the moment the doors opened and provided one of the most emotional nights of clubbing dance music culture has ever experienced. “We beat the fucking system,” Seth Troxler shouted on the mic at one point, summing up the mood of electronic music fans worldwide.
The gang violence that has dominated news headlines in cities around the rest of Mexico finally surfaced in Playa Del Carmen for The BPM Festival in January. The shooting occurred on the last night of the festival and hundreds of clubbers and DJs like Seth Troxler and Jackmaster found themselves running to escape the shots.
Five people died on the scene, another died later and 15 were wounded in the melee and local government officials reacted by banning the festival from Playa Del Carmen indefinitely. A month later the festival announced it would postpone a planned festival in Brazil but set about relocating their efforts to Portugal where it made a well received return in September.
One of our favourite IV podcasters, Charlotte de Witte.
Clubs weren’t the only things closing in 2017. Even Ibiza Voice closed in January after 13 years of service. Thankfully it was only for a brief period and thanks to new ownership, copy began to roll out once more. As the year progressed we ditched the Hype Lies & Gossip tagline and went back to basics with a new editorial team. Our podcast series welcomed legends like Goldie, Steve Rachmad, Cab Drivers, Alfredo and Jovonn while DJs like Molly or Charlotte De Witte, represented the new school.
Artists like Special Request, Roman Flugel and Joseph Capriati gave captivating interviews and we covered trends like electro’s revival, Romania’s minimal boom in addition to keeping our usual keen eye cast over Ibiza’s clubbing scene.
In another step forward for the rights of clubs, New York appealed its absurd and controversial Cabaret (No Dancing) Law. The racially motivated ban on dancing in the city’s nightspots was introduced in 1926 in an effort to prevent interracial mixing and instructed business owners to apply for a special, prohibitively expensive licence to allow for three or more people to dance at the same time.
The law was later used by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to close clubs in the late 1990s leading some promoters to install flashing lights on the dancefloor to warn of an impending police bust and almost killed the scene off in the city entirely.
The end of the law’s tenure sparked renewed optimism for the city’s flourishing dance music scene and was also aided by the appointment of an Office of Nightlife presided over by a Nightlife director, similar in power and influence to London and Amsterdam’s respective Night Czars.
The city ended the year in its healthiest state since its glory days of the 70s, 80s and 90s. The glamour and grime of the Meatpacking District’s heydays may be missing, but the vigour and vitality has been restored in the city’s bursting club listings and on its diverse dancefloors. Much of the return to form can be credited to Brooklyn which is currently ablaze thanks to clubs like Output or Good Room, parties like ReSolute and warehouse spaces like TBA.
Still feeling misty eyed for 2017? Check out our list of the year's best tracks here.